Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 9, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

7:00 pm
speak about pakistan to an audience that otherwise is restricted, and the same would be true for indian who came to pakistan. we have these, you know, myths about each other, you know, we -- we are so close to each other, but, yet, we have no idea how the other side lives, and i think people-to-people contact is tremendous for that, and there's amazing people on both sides of the border. ..
7:01 pm
7:02 pm
david nasaw recounts the life of joseph p. kennedy patriarch of the political family that included president john f. kennedy and senators robert f. kennedy and edward kennedy. the author examines joseph kennedy's career in business and politics, which included ventures in wall street, hollywood and the founding chairman of the securities and exchange commission. this is a little under an hour. [applause] >> thank you, all. delighted to be here. as i tell my history students at
7:03 pm
the city university of new york in the ph.d. program -- thank you. [laughter] as i tell my history students until they want to choke me the past is a foreign country. we can visit, try to learn the customs and the white smith the fragrances, recoil at the foul odors but we are foreigners in a strange land. this is true as much in the recent past as it is of colonial america or 12th century venice. writing about the recent past is not easy as it is this time around. first there are people you have to talk to. and while i was blessed from beginning to end by having some fascinating people to talk to about joe kennedy including large numbers of committees, i much prefer working from written
7:04 pm
documents to listening to people talk and try to figure out what's real, what's imagined, what they know, what they think they know because someone told them what they think they know they don't know at all. the difficulty is that it is not always easy to establish to construct the path that is so close to us and yet this is what historians have to do. our job is to complicate to take apart our common sense to interrogate what we think we know to demystify, demythologize, move beyond the cliche about winners and losers, saints and sinners, about the wisdom and courage of the forefathers especially those of the greatest generation.
7:05 pm
our job as historians is totally different story, the grounded benevolence, the life of joseph p. kennedy was an antique from house which if i looked at it long enough to reflect back to me often in pc and in distinct distorted form images of the events of people and places which organize and a range the story of 20th century america. >> as a historian i'm interested to tell you that the origin is of this book he introduced me to the kennedy family [inaudible]
7:06 pm
jean kennedy and investors that for the first time i was finishing up my first book and in my first biography i have used a treasure trove of materials that jean kennedy smith's daughter who is writing a collection was compiling a letters from her father to france and uncles had put me onto as in that treasure trove of materials, letters from randolph hearst to joseph kennedy back-and-forth on a glimpse of a man who was different from everything i have heard about him and so i told jean kennedy smith at some point that her daughter should write a biography of her grandfather, and if the man was absolutely fascinated. it's a good word to use when you
7:07 pm
don't know if you are going to be writing about. was fascinating i said and somebody should do a biography about a year later so jean kennedy smith again approached me and said the family wanted me to do it, to write that biography that they recognized there was the need for such a biography. and i said i'm in the midst of writing another book about andrew carnegie and she said when are you going to be finished? we can't say no to the kennedy fisa i don't know, six months maybe. six months to the day we got a call at home from someone i was convinced was a ted kennedy impersonator. i don't know if any of you grew up in new york or listened to
7:08 pm
don imus. he had a kennedy impersonator and sounded just like this and so i listened to the message and after listening to it the second or third time i realized it wasn't an impersonator, it was the senator asking me to come to washington to talk to him about doing a biography of his father. i went to washington and the senator and i and his two dogs have lunch together on monday since the dogs came to the senate with him because the senate wasn't in session and they could of rome and play. was a weird sight, believe me. we were brought into the tiny little conference room, the two dogs, the senator and me with a card table in the middle, and the senator who was always on a
7:09 pm
diet. he would feel better the center he was head the biggest sand which i'd ever seen like a sliver of tuna fish that looked as old as he was and on a piece of bread. i had two pieces of bread and potato chips and we talked for three or four hours. and what i remember saying over and over and over again is you don't want me to write this book because i am a historian, and i went find stuff, and whenever i find i'm going to put in the book and who knows, by the time this book comes out there might be a kennedy running for office. little did i know that that kennedy's naim what the joseph p. kennedy iii who ran for the most elected in congress. now the election came before my book came out, and i was
7:10 pm
worried. i thought it was a legitimate concern in the senate. he said don't worry. he said everybody knows my father had an affair with gloria swanson, and she said i know my father was an anti-semite and what ever you find come and what ever you write is going to be true to the man i knew and loved than what is out there. so i said okay. i want full access to everything. i want full access to the family, to all of the documents, to everything that is stored at the kennedy library in boston but close to researchers, and you will see the book coming you into the family and your lawyers and representatives will see the book when it's between hard covers, and i won't be coming back to you for permission to
7:11 pm
decide anything whatever i find i'm going to use in the book. he said okay then it took 18 months to get this in writing and i was off and running. and i found a more remarkable story than i had imagined. i found the story of a man who spent his life moving back-and-forth from being an outsider to an insider to an outsider to an insider. i found the story of an irish catholic who wasn't ashamed of his heritage but didn't want to be defined by eight. of a third-generation immigrant who cared little about the country, his grandparents had been born, who had no desire to visit ireland or to read about it, who considered themselves 100% american and couldn't
7:12 pm
understand why anyone would think of him as less than that, a catholic who went to mass every sunday and went to confession, and the catholic church in boston was the anchor of his existence and everywhere he went, she would find out where the church was. when he went on vacation in new hampshire he sent a note to feet innkeeper who was a friend of his and said find out when they have the confession on friday and also find out if -- he was married at that time, if they are going to be around. this pitfall happy -- in one sentence. he grew up with some of the very respective businessman and board
7:13 pm
leader in each boston. he was the ultimate insider, and even when he went to harvard because half of his class went from him to boston to harvard, and there were about 10% of the students were catholic and a much larger percentage from public schools in and around boston he still considered himself an insider. they didn't let him into some of their clubs. but that didn't bother him nearly as much as the fact that he was too slow to make the varsity baseball team. he got his letter but was never a starter. he graduated from harvard, and his life began she wanted to go
7:14 pm
banking and finance, and he discovered every door was closed to him because he was an irish catholic from each boston whose father had been a leader. his friends, his classmates got interviews, got jobs at the major banks, the major financial institutions. he does nothing. nothing. alana an answer, not an interview, nothing. she was still going to go into banking savitt took a soulful service exam and became an assistant bank examiner and he traveled around the state examining the books of the banks and learned more about the banks as he ever would have to make enough money so he could leave every one of his children money
7:15 pm
he had to foot dhaka options, he had to raise money for the larger industries in and around boston. and again he worked as an irish catholic she didn't have the connection and he would never have the connection in the major industries and what did he do, he looked ahead and she realized that financial institution who paid no attention to the industry the was about to take off moving pictures they paid no attention they are now paying attention to the pictures so she
7:16 pm
moved in so he began making his own deals and contracts when the roof was still in boston he tried to put babe ruth and moving picture but that didn't work but he demanded to be paid up front and kennedy never paid anybody up front but every other deal went through but he ended up in hollywood as the owner, as the studio had of what was a minor studio but that wasn't going to stop them but they realize and recognize and how they could convert his outside status county could make it an advantage benefit rather than a liability. so what did he do when he arrived in hollywood?
7:17 pm
she positioned himself as the non- -- non-jew. at the time when the small towns and cities all over the country aided and abetted by a lot of rabble-rousers' were beginning to see the movies for dangerous. they're dangerous because the control by these alien, they don't understand christian morality and if and towns all across the country and states all across the country were beginning to institute censorship laws and hollywood had brought in will rogers who had been in the harding cabinet mr. protestant, and kennedy now
7:18 pm
positioned himself as a non-jew, and studio after studio hired, at one point he ran for major studios, and that each of those she demanded to be paid in stock options. by the time he left hollywood after only a couple of years he was a multimillionaire because he knew how to manipulate the stock options. he knew how to turn those pieces of paper into dollars, millions of dollars coming and he did come and having learned how to make an advantage of a disadvantage at age 50, he had those millions and millions of dollars at age 50 the way the stock market worked and the
7:19 pm
stock and bonds retreated, and he knew a crash was coming and he pulled out all of his money so that when the crash did come he was left with his millions in an extraordinary position. yet with that crashed we are suffering from a recession now and a lot of people are suffering. we all know people who suffer. but it doesn't compare to the depression of the 50's. kennedy was scared that everything the country he left because it had given him lots of opportunities that he had converted into dollars he was convinced that unless something was done to right the economy,
7:20 pm
capitalism was going to go down, and with capitalism democracy and with democracy, everything that made this country great. and he was convinced the only man who could write the ship, who could save capitalism and democracy in the nation was franklin roosevelt so in 1932 she signed on to the franklin roosevelt and was only one of the bankers to do so she was one of the only catholics to and he was one of the only hollywood men with hollywood connections he was solidly republican and loved herbert hoover.
7:21 pm
the all cider was on his way to becoming an insider and yet he refused to play by the rules to become part of the roosevelt team. he refused to to our madrassa at lycee what a4a you and your brain trust want to do i will back it, i am with you. yet he was so important to roosevelt as a banker and as an irish catholic and as an incredibly smart man that roosevelt appointed him the first chairman of the securities and exchange commission at a time roosevelt's colleagues and the new deal was, you know, why are you putting a fox in control
7:22 pm
of the chickens. and joseph kennedy was the greatest chairman of the sec that we have ever seen. he knew every trick of the trade, and he passed so many regulations and so many tough regulations that when he was finished, she had to get out of the market. because every device he used to make his millions he had outlawed. from the moment that he left the sec, he began investing in real estate like the merchandise market in chicago, the largest building outside of the pentagon and the country, and he bought a block after block in new york, i don't think in philadelphia. he was concentrated in new york and chicago in westchester and
7:23 pm
albany. he wasn't yet where she needed to be. she demanded much from roosevelt and roosevelt gave it to him and named him the first ambassador, the first irish catholic ambassador to the port of saint james to great britain and was one of the worst decisions that roosevelt had ever made but he somehow believed he could keep kennedy in check, but he couldn't. he couldn't. kennedy was to men when he talked to his children he was a cheerleader, she was on optimist -- he was an optimist in the relationship into the 20th century, she was a having made his pile of money, he was
7:24 pm
convinced that it was going to be taken from him. he was convinced that democracy and capitalism would be taken from the united states. if the end united states entered the war, entered world war ii on behalf of the british. nothing was more important to him than making sure that there was no war and then keeping the united states out of the war and he did everything he possibly could. he violated critical. he didn't follow orders. he met secretly with german diplomats to be that he was convinced that as a businessman, she knew how to negotiate a deal, and that if he were put into a room with hitler, the two of them would negotiate a deal. he refused to see that hitler
7:25 pm
was a madman. that hitler didn't care about the german people. hitler had other features that drove him. he believed hitler would be a rational actor. he told the leader of the zionist community and the first president to israel. he said i'm going to go meet with him and work it out. he became so into churchill, and a british comic antiwar effort that the british opened a fire on him and spied on him called the kennedy and in the german archives there were records of his conversations with the german diplomats wanting to get to berlin to negotiate an end to the war, to negotiate a
7:26 pm
settlement the would prevent the war and rescue of refugees again and not for the first time, she would go from an insider to an outsider because he didn't know how to be a team player. he returned to the country in disgrace it was all that roosevelt wanted for him and wife roosevelt did not fire as he should have. she retired and he kept blabbing away giving an interview in boston image he said they were finished. this was during the battle of britain. the britisher finished. any money you give the british, it is wasted and thrown away. and then, she went to hollywood,
7:27 pm
she was invited by jack warner to speak at the studio about the future of the films and what was the film going to do, what with the film company is going to do if they couldn't export to europe. but instead of talking about that, he lashed out an audience that was almost all jewish, he lashed out on him and he said you are a must stop making interest of the lead to a hitler from the great dictator, as he stopped making and a german, and i hit local antinazi films, you are going to cause the next war millions of american boys aren't bickel and blood will be spilled and will be the worst outbreak of anti-semitism that this world has ever seen because everybody is going to win a remedy in this country is going to blame the
7:28 pm
jews. by 1940 he was a total absolute praia nobody wanted to touch him. nobody could join the first immunity and sign up with lynn burba but he didn't want to do that because he knew that if he did that, there would be no place in politics for his children ever, ever, ever. so he didn't. he stayed quiet. the marrec was part of the stories, the part i'm not going to be able to tell you the you will have to read in 1940 he was the kennedy name was dirty. it was dirt among the isolationists because kennedy
7:29 pm
didn't come out against roosevelt. again because he wanted to protect his children so they could be insiders among the new dealers, the jews, everyone who wanted or believe that americans had to support the british in the war effort and 20 years later his son was elected president of the united states. once again the outsider had performed magic and had become the ultimate insider, the father to the president of the united states. thank you. [applause] and i am delighted to take questions. [applause]
7:30 pm
there's a microphone here so hold your hand, and don't speak until you get a microphone. >> wonderful speech. isn't it true that roosevelt sent him to england to get rid of him because he considered him such a pain in the nec? >> in part. it's a great question. and part. but he also -- roosevelt didn't trust anybody come and roosevelt was a brilliant charmer and come niger, the greatest president that we have ever had. but roosevelt always said three people to do one job, place them against each other. and he believed that she needed kennedy because kennedy would immediately break the report to him directly rather than to the state department and she was smart enough to be his eyes and his years but he didn't realize
7:31 pm
kennedy would quickly develop this obsession that made him useless as a reporter on the conditions in europe, and roosevelt for the next two years would send over a variety of personal representatives to do the job that kennedy should have been doing and report on the principle preparedness, whether mussolini was calling to enter the war on the side of the germans and the stuff that he hoped kennedy would do. he kept them there, however, because he was worried about them, that he would come home and support the republican or run for president. okay. there's a question here and then over here. >> we haven't heard anything
7:32 pm
about booze. [laughter] >> one of the things i was going to write about in this book is bootlegging to write about bootleggers and al capone and all the rest. regrettably none of it is true. kennedy gave -- kennedy supplied his harvard reunion class with liquor that may or may not have been illegal. he got in because his father was an importer and when prohibition came and you were allowed to take all of your liquor and his father did and some of them got to the harvard reunion. aside from that, no knollwood ligon whatsoever. doesn't begin until the 1970's
7:33 pm
when nixon rose against jfk and 1960's mix and brings out researchers he hires them all over the country to find every bit of dirt they can about the kennedy family and they find plenty of dirt about joe kennedy but no one accuses him of being a bootlegger. it is only in the 1970's when the writers are trying to figure out the assassination, and they think it cannot be all squall, it has got to be the mafia. but why would the mafia killed after jfk and these explanations are put together, and all sorts of retired mafia, retire as a mafia% in europe and the bahamas they will come out and they say yeah they see a good story and
7:34 pm
they wouldn't let it go and i reading this stuff trying to track down every rumor, every story and the credible witnesses include al capone's piano tuner who gives an interview in which he says he was turning it when they met together and they include the ex-wife of a chicago mobster who says yeah my husband was a good friend to joe cannon. in putting someone in the penitentiary in canada since his granduncle had been killed by kennedy who was in partnership with truman as a bootlegger.
7:35 pm
there was no credible piece of data, and that was the canadian and government was great. they didn't give a damn. they supported as much as possible coming across the border as long as the ship was paid in excise tasked you could tax since before the united states. but joseph kennedy limited and he refused to pay the excise tax people said here's the program here is the smoking gun. well i found this kennedy and i looked at the business records and the tax records and so no
7:36 pm
bootlegging of any sort. here and then we will go across to what extent did john kennedy know of his father's relationships with multiple women. [laughter] >> yes and i think there are no cavities in the audience here jack was much more predatory even then his father was joe kennedy spent, joe kennedy and
7:37 pm
rose had an arrangement much like her father fi had an arrangement with rose's mother and then do whatever the hell i want, and he didn't. he tried not to embarrass rose. i don't think jack had that same code that is inexcusable, gloria swanson, one of the things i found as i went to austin texas to see the glorious papers and i teach ph.d. students i'm the only historian who's made the trip to austin texas which has these great archives including the lbj library to look at the gloria swanson papers i felt her
7:38 pm
hand written and the autobiography is written without much participation. remember who was it will chamberlain, charles barkley or someone was asked -- what is this doing in your biography and autobiography? he said i don't know i haven't read it yet. gloria swanson in these handwritten notes have the stuff of catholic who went to confession and went to mass could cheat on his wife like this. and she said, and gloria had her
7:39 pm
own prejudices i didn't know that she liked catholics very much she said because confession was like washing his hands washing his hands starting all over again this is part of the story i have to tell >> what you elaborate a little bit more i wouldn't say that. what i said is that his son had said that he's not an anti-semite. now, let me tell you that i might -- this was not easy to figure this out. and it wasn't easy in large part because when you look at washington in the 1930's and especially the state department,
7:40 pm
everybody the state department is frightening, and washington outside of the state department is only a little bit better so when you start talking about who is an anti-semite, the better question is what kind of an anti-semite half i had to define for myself what anti-semite means committed to destroying the morality. hendee the country for was an anti-semite according to this definition that which began my definition she was in the state
7:41 pm
department and ran the refugee program and kept out hundreds of thousands with as much blood on his hands as most germans was an anti-semite. kennedy was not but what kennedy was was as time went on a sort every anti-semitic left and a methodology he used language and made speeches that were frighteningly anti-semitic. he believed that the organized jewish community, not all jews, the most powerful ones including those in the white house,
7:42 pm
frankfurter, or close to the white house, frankfurt, brandeis, benjamin cool, sam rosen to be doing all they possibly could to push the united states into the war against germany to somehow get revenge against hitler. they were looking after their only tribal interests, they were not patriotic, and in a funny way he accused the jews of everything that billy graham's and protestants accused his son of when he ran for the presidency in 1960. he didn't believe it was possible to be a jew and to be a true patriot at the same time and those who opposed his son's election because he was roman catholic he said you couldn't be
7:43 pm
a catholic and a true blooded american at the same time because they couldn't turn him down. is it true kennedy's views about the future of the stock market was influenced by his bootblack one day was giving him advice on the marquette and supposedly kennedy had said on his way to his office he thought something is wrong when they give me advice? >> it's a great story. i found no evidence. it may be true. there are some stories they found no evidence for. i didn't include it in my book because i couldn't verify it. but kennedy didn't need it to tell him that. kennedy was really smart. and when you look back at the
7:44 pm
crash of 1929, as when you look back at the crash of 2008, you find that there are a lot of people who knew it was coming. and nobody was listening to it. bernard knew it was coming and he got his money out of the market. kennedy knew it was coming and he took his money out of every kind of speculative stock because if you had -- its the insiders who had to have known that the market was oversold. gracia marks who was wiped out listened to the insiders said he could be a a result of being stupid but the people that worked as the brokers had to have known that it was coming. kennedy knew that was coming and got out.
7:45 pm
>> [inaudible] his marriage to rose kennedy and to the article royalty of the irish power in washington and i have a story that you may or may not know one of my mother's friends grew up in palm beach and she would be about 95 if she were still alive now get a there was a time when she stayed home and everyone in palm beach shunned her but bobby kennedy came in and sit our fathers said we are about to play with you if >> i wish you told me that before. yeah, it rings true. it makes sense, it makes perfect sense because nobody liked it.
7:46 pm
the kennedys in palm beach now, and kennedy had that time said the hell with it. we will make our own way, and we did. he did his own entertaining it in his own house when he went to bradley's which was the casino she claimed had the best food in palm beach. the question is did kennedy married rose fitzgerald because she was the daughter, that he called her, did he make her his girlfriend and go out with her and then marry her because her father was there? yes and no. she was deemed most eligible. she was smart, pretty, vivacious, she had this carefree attitude.
7:47 pm
she was an extraordinary young woman, and i think kennedy was drawn to her and i don't know what came first but kennedy certainly knew that his girlfriend was the mayor's daughter. for a long time he didn't want them to be married and not because joe kennedy didn't have a bright prospect but because his father had been in tight and he election after election after election. his father believed that catholic, irish catholic politicians she was a clown,
7:48 pm
they were wild, they were rabble-rousers', they were the worst kind of populist, joe kennedy's father was not. and one of the reasons why joe himself didn't enter politics was that he was totally fed up with his irish catholic what he had seen as the posturing to the people on the an irish catholic to look for you said mary and they look after their own pockets. >> any comments on the story with his daughter rosemary so
7:49 pm
that she wouldn't embarrass them from becoming president? >> yes. i did an awful lot of research and i found all sorts of stuff. you can blame kennedy for lots of stuff. he loved that child. when he moved all the other children backed to the united states when the french and when germany and world war ii began he kept rosemary with him in england because she was doing well at the school and looked after her you read the letters and you love this child. everybody knew she was slow but that was okay. it was okay.
7:50 pm
but as she grew older and was slow but smart enough to understand that her brothers and sisters were going out in the world and going to dances and playing golf brothers and sisters ten years younger could play with themselves she was no longer this angry little girl and a kennedy did with what he all did all of his children. she went and sought the best medical advice and the medical advice was give her a lobotomy. in this period of time, the lauded the tecum -- lobotomy was
7:51 pm
the preferred and there were critics of course but the man that did the lobotomy won the nobel prize. the man who performed the lobotomy, the team that performed the phlebotomy was a neurosurgeon from yale and a the had of johns hopkins you are still going to be slow but we are going to do this operation and she isn't going to be angry or unhappy, she's not going to be discontent. she will be a happy child again. and the lot any do because the six lobotomy went wrong and she eventually learned to walk but she never spoke again, she didn't write, her intelligence had been that of six or 78-year-old.
7:52 pm
and for two years after that kennedy was the only one that kept in touch with her to the rose didn't write her. and the letters to the family rosebud right to the family and say x is doing this and why is doing this and rosemary disappeared. kennedy continued to visit her, and she finally found a place for her. he wanted to put her in boston in a place near boston in a home for retarded and children. he said don't do it because you can't protect the family's privacy or your privacy. and you can't protect her privacy so they moved her to a content home in wisconsin. all that i understand. what i don't understand is that when he put her in this home that she was well cared for she never saw her again, and the
7:53 pm
family only began to visit after kennedy had his debilitating stroke and they never told him. the only one to make sense out of this to me was to shriver, she began the work with openly disabled because of what the family went through and tim shriver is an extraordinary young man that works for the olympics you have to understand the shame because they couldn't do enough for their system, they couldn't do enough for her. they couldn't do anything kennedy convinced himself and the rest of the family that she was better off by herself with her own community for herself in jefferson wisconsin.
7:54 pm
i still don't understand it as much as i want. one last question. >> [inaudible] >> his kids loved him and of toward him and thought that it wasn't often taken the beginning, they were making it up. i couldn't believe they would speak of me half as well as his voice and his daughters who had more of a reason. they loved the guy and it was only after i did my research that i discovered why he was an extraordinary father. what could be an sob to watch my language and be an extraordinary father and he was an extraordinary father.
7:55 pm
i'm telling you just one story on the bay of pigs when we now know that jfk was absolutely distraught, jackie and her interviews with arthur schlesinger that were published talks about seeing her husband just cry, a grown man just sobbing because of the loss of lives he had sent these men to die on a beach. it was a major, major crisis, and kennedy, the president and kennedy, the attorney general at one point we were trying to make sense of this and he said let's call that to make us feel better. he always makes us feel better. somebody picked up the phone to call him at palm beach and he got on the phone and he said
7:56 pm
look, this is terrible, this is a fiasco, this is a debacle but it was at the beginning of your four year term and everybody will have forgotten, and the fact that you apologize, the american people love that, hugh watch your proposal go up in two weeks, and kennedy was right, kennedy the father, and bobby was right they felt better and they did go out in two weeks. that was the kind of father he was, and one of the reasons i enjoyed writing this was from beginning to end of antisemitism, but he said, the isolationism, the ruthless stock market, racketeering, the lobotomy that i never understood , that his relationship with all of the children including rosemary up
7:57 pm
to that was truly remarkable. so on that note, i thank you all for your attention.
7:58 pm
7:59 pm
diplomat who served as an economic and commercial attache from 2004 to 2006 talks about the background to the 2011 uprising in libya. it's about an hour and a starts now here on book tv. [applause] >> good evening everyone. thank you very much. i would like to thank you of the carnegie council for hosting


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on